My Rating: 4/10
There’s a lot wrong with this movie. I’m just going to say that off the bat. But the reason I didn’t rate it a 2 was because despite everything, and there’s going to be a lot of issues I mention, it was still somehow entertaining? And that matters. Kinda. As usual, this review contains VERY MINOR SPOILERS.
We’re introduced to Sam. She’s a normal teenager, with a strained relationship with her parents, whom we find out quickly aren’t her parents at all, but people fostering her. Garret, the asshole father figure who clearly isn’t all that interested in building bonds with her, and the mother, whose name I’ve already forgotten, is optimistic but problematic in her own ways.
The foster family puts a lot of responsibility on Sam. All we really see of their relationship of her throughout this movie is them making her do chores and take care of their biological child. Seems more like a live-in nanny situation than anything else, except this nanny doesn’t have a choice in the matter.
One day, the little girl goes missing. Since Sam was supposed to be playing nanny, her foster parents blame her. But the girl shows up again, and she’s different. She’s cruel.
What follows is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. There are no surprises in this movie.
The social situation turns into a gaslighting-fest. The main character has to figure it out on her own when everyone is against her. People die. More shit happens for her parents to blame on her. A lot of characters have serious, clearly infectious cases of horror-movie-itis where their decision making could use a little work.
I mean, okay, a movie can be predictable and still be good, and this one definitely had its moments where I was just enjoying the tension and the performances. But the performances left a bit to be desired too. Mostly, they weren’t terrible. Some over-acting, some under-acting, but passable enough to be forgivable in an indie movie like this. They really work hard to sell their roles, but there’s only so much they can do.
The writing was perhaps less passable. I’m soooo tired of that gaslighting trope! It can be done well, but it’s so overdone that when it’s subpar, it becomes just plain exhausting.
Oh! And the subtext! Wow. Okay, I love subtext. I think subtext is so important in horror. But they do it to death in this movie, and they don’t do it super well, so the writing is like dancing all around these plot points, trying so hard to avoid hitting them on the nose that we as the viewers arrive at conclusions way before the characters do, and we’re left just sitting there, waiting for these characters to catch up.
I really love the cinematography though. The woods in this movie are gorgeous!
I will say that it’s a good effort. On everyone’s parts. The bones of this movie showed a lot of promise, but the execution fell flat. I would be interested in watching more from this director/writer, maybe later in their career, and I’d tentatively recommend you watch this if you can find it for free somewhere, like if it goes on Netflix at any point. Get some good popcorn, lower them expectations, and it could be fun.
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Sam Clover is an author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.